This summer Suzanne Joyal and myself have been guest visual arts specialists at the Marinwood Summer Day Camps program. My first two workshops were Funny Comics (7/11) and Sculpt Like Michaelangelo: Working With Clay (7/25).
In Funny Comics, we used professional techniques to unlock our creativity. First, our young artists responded to a selection of rapid-fire writing prompts, followed by a selection of rapid-fire drawing prompts. Next, we put together the writing with the drawings to make unusual and humorous connections. Finally, the artists either re-drew their new comic, making changes to improve the humor, or were inspired to make a new comic all-together.
For our clay workshop, I introduced and instructed in the techniques of the pinch pot, the coil, and the slab. We then constructed lidded jars out of air-dry clay. Some of the artists chose to embed beads, sequins, and glitter in their jars! Being summer, many of the artists shaped their jars like ice cream cones and sundaes, or other creative forms, like an Egyptian canopic jar! the artists used our remaining session time to sculpt whatever they like using the techniques they had practiced.
Mentor Artist Angela Baker facilitated a clay residency with 1st graders at San Ramon Elementary in Novato. The teachers suggested a theme of animals and habitats to connect with grade level curriculum and link to a field trip to the California Academy of Sciences.
Students first explored various clay techniques such as squeezing, rolling, pinching, and smoothing with an air dry clay. Students could create anything they wanted but were encourage to pay close attention to how to make their piece strong. What happens if pieces are too thin? Some solutions for strengthening pieces were demonstrated.
After practicing with the air dry clay, students created animals in a beautiful terra cotta kiln fire clay. For these pieces students also learned how to use clay tools such as a wooden pencil and a metal scratching tool. They practiced the “scratch and attach” technique; a method for attaching two pieces of clay together.
While the clay was in the kiln for the glaze fire students were shown some paper folding techniques and made mini collages. These were great practice for creating a 3-dimensional structure and helped with the construction of the final dioramas of animal habitats.
At the end of the last class together, the animals were placed in their dioramas and the class did a gallery walk. Many students had created habitats so rich in color and detail that the animals were camouflaged.
Angela asked “What do you see?” One girl answered, “Details.” She then asked if they thought details were important in art and if so, why. Here are some answers: “Details make it look more like the real world.” “Details make it beautiful.” “Details give you more information.”
The first four weeks of break-out sessions with Marinwood Summer Camp have been tons of fun! Here are some of the projects we have enjoyed so far: